Eurgh! Current status: Sweaty Mess. 7.5 months of sweaty mess, in Jo’s case. Nursing a sweaty toddler in Lauren’s case. It’s fair to say that this heatwave, though welcomed in a wider sense (Yay for summer!) is causing some difficulty for us here at The Mother Side!
So, whilst we’re not claiming to be staying *totally* cool, there are a few tips that we’ve been given that might help you cope. I’m sure our readers in hotter countries are wondering what all the fuss is about but you have to understand that there is no middle ground here – 10 days ago, P was jumping in puddles wearing wellies, a woolly hat and a thick raincoat. Today she is wearing a nappy and short sleeved cotton vest – it’s bonkers how quickly the temperature changes and gives us no time to acclimatise. If you have any tips for staying cool, please share them with us 🙂
Whether you have a big ol’ bump, a newborn, or are running around after a sweaty toddler, motherhood is not conducive to remaining cool! A bump simply means less of a gap between boobs and stomach, so the dreaded sweaty cleavage is ever present and ‘chub rub’ between your thighs can catch out even the slimmest of gals!
– Clothes-wise, we recommend loose, natural fibres in light colours. Anything synthetic/man-made will send your temperature soaring faster than a teenage girl’s at a Bieber concert. Harem style trousers, loose jumpsuits, kaftans, cotton vest tops and maxi dresses… make friends with these items. The only issue with dresses and skirts is bare thighs, which leads us to…
– One of our lovely followers recommended today that roll on deodorant between the thighs and under the boobs can help stop the sweat – in the name of research, Jo tried the latter today and definitely has less boob sweat! But also, ‘Hellooooooo, boob deodorant…’! Has anyone tried this? Body oil or coconut oil can also stop rubbing between the thighs (also tried and trusted!). Already been the victim of chaffage? Calamine lotion, aloe vera gel or Sudocrem should help soothe the inflammation.
– Running cold water over your wrists and sitting with your feet in a bucket of cold water (or the kids’ paddling pool) feels goooooood. A stash of wet flannels (or a packet of wet wipes) kept in the fridge also provides a quick way of cooling off throughout the day, and cool showers or baths can help lower your temperature – especially nice at the end of the day.
– Keep moisturisers and after sun in the fridge for extra cooling when you apply them. Also a good excuse to stand in front of the open fridge when you get them out!
– Drink plenty of fluids (though remember that caffeine and alcohol will dehydrate you, so you’ll need even more water to compensate).
– Take in air through a rolled tongue (or shape your lips as if you’re whistling and inhale). The air running over your tongue can help you feel cool.
– Keep a small spray bottle of water in your bag to spritz your (and your child’s) face and body when you’re out and about. Even better are the ones with fans attached!
BABIES AND TODDLERS:
Remember that babies under 6 months shouldn’t be exposed to direct sunlight, even if they are wearing sunblock. Parasols, UV buggy shades and pop-up UV tents are all helpful – just keep a close eye on their temperature.
Familiarise yourself with the signs of dehydration in babies here.
– Cuddling and/or feeding a baby to sleep is a sure fire recipe for sweat and, often, tears as it is so frustrating! They need/want to feed but are hot, bothered and slippery. Some people favour a big muslin between them and you, to wick away sweat. Jo uses a cellular blanket as Primrose nods off, meaning she can be wrapped to transfer her into bed (bare legs and arms coming into contact with the sheets often wakes her). The blanket can then be unfurled so it is underneath her. ONLY USE THIS WITH BABIES OVER 12 MONTHS – No loose covers should be used before this time.
– Milk:breastfeeding on demand or formula feeding should provide the hydration they need. Your breastmilk changes with the weather/temperature, so will be creamier and richer on cold days and more watery to compensate
for the heat. Your baby may want to nurse in short bursts to satisfy thirst and should not be given water in addition. Baby under six months and you’re worried about them getting hot or dehydrated? Use lolly moulds to create breast milk ice lollies – it is impossible to overfeed a breastfed baby so they can have as many as they like (as long as they’re supervised)! These lolly moulds are the best we’ve found. Formula fed babies are sometimes given water (must be boiled and cooled before six months) in addition to their milk. Once weaning begins at six months, a little water can be offered with food, to aid digestion and to create the habit of drinking water with meals.
If you’re breastfeeding and the heat is making things slippery and uncomfortable, you may want to consider feeding lying down, to minimise skin to skin contact.
Be aware that mineral water contains higher levels of sodium than tap water – check the levels before using it to make up formula milk if you are on holiday.
– Food: Again, little and often is the way forward. Between six months and a year, babies often aren’t eating a great deal – food is fun/experimental at this stage. Continue to offer it as normal but don’t be surprised if their appetite decreases and they want more milk.
Older babies may also have little appetite for big meals – you may find it easier to let them graze throughout the day – cold foods are great: crudités, breadsticks, hummus, cream cheese – things that you’d usually think of as ‘snacks’ can be offered at regular intervals to keep hunger at bay without filling them up so much that they feel hot and bothered.
Fruit can be frozen as a refreshing snack and the lolly moulds mentioned above can be filled with water or smoothie-style mixes (blitz in a food processor) for a cooling treat – Milk, strawberries and mint, or pineapple, mango and a little water are just two of a plethora of options – don’t be afraid to experiment!
– Clothing: As we do, children need loose fitting, natural fibres, preferably light coloured. A wide brimmed hat to
cover their neck and shade their face is a must (chin straps are very handy for babies who like to remove them (looking at you, Primrose!), and a pair of sunglasses with 100% UV protection are a godsend for little peepers – BabyBanz are reputable and come with elasticated, adjustable bands so you can a) make them comfortable for your baby’s head and b) use them for more than one summer. If your child will happily wear sunglasses rather than removing them constantly, you may also want to check out Babiators.
UV protection sunsuits are useful for swimming outdoors, as are legionnaire hats, with a flap to protect sensitive neck skin.
Put yourself in their shoes and consider whether you’d like to be wearing as many layers. We’ve seen babies recently wearing pramsuits and blankets, which puts them in real danger of overheating. Remember, they are already in padded car seats or buggies, making it hard for the air to circulate. Tiny babies, especially, cannot regulate their body temperature and newborns can’t sweat anywhere other than on their forehead (more information here). Avoid any unnecessary layers and accessories such as pram shoes. A thin cotton romper and sun hat is plenty in temperatures like these.
– Sleepwear: You will need to adjust the clothing your baby wears to bed depending on the temperature of their room. This handy chart is brilliant and, if you’re worried about temperature drops throughout the night, a cellular blanket is very handy – they can be added or removed as necessary.
Primrose is currently sleeping in a short sleeved vest OR very thin, short sleeved pyjamas. Jo also puts two large muslins over a sheepskin, which is on top of her bottom sheet – it’s easier to strip the muslins every day or so than to take off the sheet, especially with a big baby bump making leaning over the cot tricky. The sheepskin allows air to circulate and came from Jojo Maman Bebe.
– Sun Cream: Child’s Farm do a fantastic SPF50 sun lotion that is suitable for sensitive/eczema-prone skin but be warned – a little goes a long way, so use sparingly. On the plus side, its whiteness makes it easy to see where you’ve applied. Aldi have received rave reviews of their lotions, available from £2.79! This article is great at covering a wide range of lotions to suit all budgets – many supermarket brands fared brilliantly, whereas some of their expensive competitors did not!
Of course, what works for one child may not agree with another. It’s worth trying out products between friends before investing money – if your ‘mum group’ or tribe each have a different type, you can patch test on a small area of skin. Either way, make sure your chosen brand offers both UVA and UVB protection and ensure all areas are covered, including ears, noses (and down the sides of noses) and necks. Reapply frequently, especially if they’ve been swimming or playing with water.
Apply before getting dressed – Jo has ruined two white tops this week with sun lotion. Any tips on getting it out greatly appreciated (laundry bleach and a 60 degree wash hasn’t worked!)
– Heat rash: The heat, plus thick SPF 50 sun cream often leads to heat rash. Soothe this with cool baths followed by calamine lotion (breast milk also works a treat if you are able to pump). Nappies may need changing more frequently than usual as the dampness may cause irritation, even in babies who usually don’t get nappy rash.
– Water/ice play: Nothing beats finding a shady spot, filling a paddling pool, Tuff Tray or washing up bowl with water and letting your children splash around. You can sit with your feet in the water too, whilst supervising – especially great for those suffering with swollen ankles! If you don’t have a garden, spread a wipe clean mat/oilcloth on your floor and fill bowls or plastic storage boxes with water for the same effect. Failing, a middle of the day cold water bath will do the trick.
Try freezing plastic dinosaurs or animals in water, in freezer bags or Tupperware. Older children will love chipping away at them with forks and spoons to release the animals, whilst cooling off!
-Air conditioning units: If you opt for an A/C unit at home, or have it in your car/holiday location, be aware that these can lead to dehydration too, so though you’ll feel cooler, do ensure that baby has enough fluid to stay hydrated.
– Buggies/ Prams: It sounds odd, but the best way to circulate air around your baby is the use a sheepskin liner in their buggy or pram. They keep them cool in the heat and warm in the colder weather… it’s been working for actual sheep for many centuries 😉
Finally, perhaps THE most important message we can convey… NEVER, EVER use a blanket/muslin/coat/anything else to cover your child’s buggy, pram or car seat. You’re effectively creating an oven and it takes just a few minutes for the air to heat up to dangerous levels. Additionally, CO2 levels increase quickly in the enclosed space. Despite all the big newspapers running article on this every year, we still see it happening every day in the summer. Use a SnoozeShade, Outlook Solar Shade or Shade-A-Babe (or other certified product) to ensure sun protection without overheating.
– It is so tempting to throw open all your curtains and windows in the heat, to let in any tiny breeze that might come your way BUT (And stick with us here), keeping curtains/blinds and windows closed actually helps keep your home cool. Leave them open overnight and during the early morning, then shut them again once the temperature starts to go up… During the day, we have been leaving the windows and curtains in the girls’ rooms closed, and the door shut and they’ve remained by far the coolest rooms in our homes. 30% of indoor heat comes through your windows (more, if they’re facing the sun directly), so block it out.
– If, however, there is a breeze, it can be worthwhile opening all windows on the same level in your home, to create a breeze… it can take a bit of experimenting to work out whether having the windows open is keeping your home cooler or not!
– A bowl of ice or, even better, big 2l bottles of frozen water in front of a fan means cool air is blown around the room, rather than warm.
– Hang a wet sheet or towel over your windows (if they are open) to cool the air as it enters the room.
– Leave your loft hatch(es) open to allow hot air to escape.
Please comment below with any tips that we’ve missed – we’d love to hear them!
Love, The (very hot) Mother Side xxx
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